Election season is upon us and political opponents seem willing to do anything to get the upper hand. The Hatch Act recently resurfaced as a tool in this battle when Carolyn Lerner, the newest head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), sent a letter to Congress claiming that the Hatch Act is flawed, ineffective and unfairly penalizes political appointees. She wants the statute to be changed.
Even more interesting is that the New York Times and the Washington Post have taken valuable space on editorial pages to support Democrats' new push to reform the Hatch Act, calling reform a "no brainer". A central theme to this sudden concern is that the Hatch Act is an all too easy, political, “gothcha” weapon to be wielded by partisan opponents to score puny political victories in advance of the next election.
Yep. Been there. Experienced that.
Democrats and mainstream media folks once held far different views about the Hatch Act and routinely went to great lengths to justify any assault to score political points during the Bush Administration. Then, the Washington Post seemed to think the Hatch Act was one of the most important statutes and made room on page 1 for any tidbit related to the Bush Administration. The NY Times also fell in line to champion kangaroo court investigations that they thought would help their candidates in future elections.
Well, well, well. Now the wheel has come full circle. With Democrats holding the White House and holding only a very slim majority in the Senate, they have become concerned about the Hatch Act's overly broad interpretation of "political" activity. And even though the Post and Lerner focus on recommendations for changes at the State and Local level, the OSC has also proposed changes at the federal level.
No doubt with the full knowledge of just how much damage an unscrupulous investigator can manufacture with a skillful use of false or exaggerated accusations, Democrats are anxious to change the laws so that the very tactics they invented and used with such great skill cannot be turned against them in a similar manner. Hence, leading Democrats now are voicing their fears that the Hatch Act may be misused and that political opponents may take it to extremes.